Amata Corp Pcl, a major industrial estate developer in Thailand, plans to invest $1 billion in the construction of the Amata Smart and Eco City in northern Laos.

The Lao government has granted a concession to the Amata to build an industrial estate on a 410ha site in Natuey in Luang Namtha province.

Amata chairman and CEO Vikrom Kromadit was quoted in the Bangkok Post as saying that construction of the Amata Smart and Eco City Natuey project will start early this year, with potential for expansion to 20,000ha in the following phases.

The industrial complex is set to become a model for modern industrial parks, with energy-efficient infrastructure and sustainable environmental management, he added.

A senior official from the Luang Namtha provincial administration office, Somphavan Chanthachakvong, told Vientiane Times on January 18 that the Amata Smart and Eco City is designed to positively change the image of Luang Namtha province and Laos as a whole.

The smart city aims to serve international investors in various industries, including logistics and warehousing, rubber and plastic products, machinery, food and beverage processing, as well as chemicals and pharmacy.

“The smart city is located close to the Natuey train station, which is about 20km from the Chinese border,” Somphavan said.

“There are two railway stations in Luang Namtha province which serve as gateways between ASEAN and China to further boost tourism and trade exchanges.”

Somphavan said the Laos-China railway will play a significant role in facilitating trade and investment cooperation between ASEAN and China and beyond.

“Construction of the smart city will not only help to spur economic growth in Laos but will also encourage investors in the region to relocate their factories here,” he added.

Vikrom was quoted in the Bangkok Post as saying that Amata plans to invite multinational companies and governments from China, Japan, Singapore and Thailand to promote the Amata Smart and Eco City project.

“We will focus on working with these four countries and Laos to develop this project to its full potential,” he said.

The company has pledged to seek cooperation to support trade and investment to help Laos become a more competitive, attractive and modern foreign direct investment (FDI) destination.

A Lao government meeting in 2019 agreed that sufficient economic analysis had been undertaken to give the green light to the smart city project, which supports the government’s policy on investment promotion, increased productivity, and development alongside the Laos-China railway.

Amata has built industrial estates in Thailand and Vietnam, with a combined customer base of over 1,400 industrial tenants and residents.

These industrial estates have led to urbanisation, with up to 300,000 people now living in nearby areas.